What is a good career field for someone who needs to start over?

I have several years of high-tech management experience - and I have a good 25 years of work still ahead of me. Still, as someone over 40, I’m told (both in press and in private discussion) that I’m “too old” to get hired.

My credentials include an MBA and another master’s degree - but I find myself now looking to just start from scratch. I can’t afford to go back to school.

I already know that I should “find what I want” - but right now I need practical suggestions on how/where a “middle-aged” person can start over. I really want to work. Thank you in advance.

I’m no career expert but I would say that the best place to start would be to enroll in a couple night school classes to brush up on some of the more modern skills employers are looking for. Specifically computer skills. Anything outside of manual labor is going to require that you are proficient with computers and one of the things that will scare off employers is that you may not posess some of the more modern skillsets needed in the workplace. Try to sign up for a course on the Windows and Microsoft Office environment. This looks good on your resume and will show that not only are your skills current and up-to-date, it will show that you are a pro-active individual and even though you are an old dog, you can still learn new tricks. Can you give a little more information on your past experiences and education?

Some comments from my life experience.

Including the tectonic shift in my life when I took my first job out of college, I have re-invented my career 3 times already. Twice by my choice, the last time by my employers choice.

The comments about age are horse hooey. What is really key is that you communicate to a potential employer that you have a solution to their problem.

They are not paying you for your degrees or credentials ! The degree serves several purposes. It is a certificate that show that you have some degree of training and hopefully education in some field of endeavor. It shows that you have enough ‘something’ to go get the degree. And it is a ticket to get past the first gate keeper.

Repeating my earlier comment - you are being hired to solve a problem, to execute some program, to improve planning and execution, etc, to do something that provide value to the organization.

You have or should have assets that are not available to the young. Maturity, wisdom, experience, work ethic, work experience. Add to that a willingness to negotiate and a laser like focus on solving your future employers problems.

You will likely have a better shot at getting something with a smaller firm. It is easier to get past the gate keepers. So much HR initial work is not done by people but by computers it is hard to get through the formulaic computerized HR processes.

A little story - A few days after 9/11 I was riffed’ from my previous employer. I casually knew the owner of a small engineering firm. We talked and made a deal. This guy is a financially tight person. We eventually settled on a salary that was half my previous job, but at that point the ‘hook was set’ and the clock was ticking.

While tempted by the prospect of hiring talent at a discount, they also knew two things. a) if did in fact re-invent my career my street value would go way up and the threat of me eventually leaving would exist, and b) they would have to meet the challenge matching the street price.

In the meantime they would potentially get some work done at a discount, I would have no gaps in employment, etc… There are a lot of other factors such has willingness to move, what the kids are up to, etc.

But it is super important to stay busy and network. And seriously to that point - volunteering intensely in an organization like FIRST or some other passion is a great thing to help close the resume gap. And you can learn a lot of other stuff and meet other people on the way.

EPILOGUE: I planned to stay with my current employer only two years but I’m now pushing ten. A long long long time ago by salary got fixed, and I have great flexibility in my work schedule which is convenient for my volunteering with FIRST and my FRC / FTC / Inventeam. Focus on bring value to the employer and the rest falls into line.


Since your current career description doesn’t sound too specific or limiting, I don’t think you need to totally change your career field - as long as you had enjoyed the type of work you were doing up until now.

I have to agree with everything Ed said above. Your age should not be a factor, especially if you focus on what you have achieved / accomplished and what you can offer.

Keep busy now, your self esteem will depend on it! Volunteering is a great way to do that. And sometimes it leads to a paying job and sometimes it opens up an area of interest that you may not have considered before. You also need to spend a dedicated amount of time in researching opportunities and writing and tailoring your resume to match those opportunities.

That said, to me, the most critical thing for you to do is polish and grow your network. 9 of the last 10 people that I know who have recently gotten jobs, got that job because they knew someone (who knew someone…). Only one did it the old fashioned way by submitting a resume. Sign up on an online professional networking site such as LinkedIn, and start making connections with people you know, have worked with and so on. Get your address book out and start reconnecting with those people you knew throughout your 25 years of experience. The chance is great that someone you already know has a open position that would fit you to a T!

Good luck!

Look at the major companies in your area. While some companies may be letting people go from one department, other departments are probably looking for well-qualified people to work with them.

Also, if it makes you feel any better, I have a colleague who started working here at around the age of 50.

Hey Odi-

First of all, never let anyone tell you that you’re “too old” to get hired. What the heck? 40 isn’t old! You are at the perfect age, enough maturity to deal with things that younger employee can not perhaps. In terms of deciding what you want to do - nobody can answer that for you… except you! I’d suggest checking out http://www.careeroverview.com - might help you get some clarity. Hope that helps! :slight_smile: